Death toll in catastrophic Kentucky flood rises to 26 as dozens remain missing

Death toll in catastrophic Kentucky flood rises to 26 as dozens remain missing as state braces for MORE heavy rain: Gov Beshear says ‘we are going to be finding bodies for weeks’

  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear predicted that the death toll from the flooding that has devastated the state would continue to rise in the coming weeks
  • In a video statement the governor also warned residents that more flooding was expected in the coming days and asked them to stay vigilant
  • The governor said that in addition to the 26 victims, numerous more bodies had been recovered but their connection to the flooding hadn’t been confirmed yet

The number of deaths from massive flooding in Kentucky climbed to 26 on Sunday and several dozen people remained missing amid a renewed threat of more heavy rain.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said on NBC’s ‘Meet The Press’ that the death toll had risen by one since Saturday from last week’s storms, and predicted the count would continue to rise in the coming weeks. 

‘This is one of the most devastating, deadly floods that we have seen in our history,’ he said, ‘With the level of water, we’re going to be finding bodies for weeks, many of them swept hundreds of yards, maybe a quarter-mile-plus from where they were lost.’  

As many as 37 people remain unaccounted for, according to a daily briefing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On top of that, more flash flooding was possible in portions of Appalachia on Sunday and Monday as the latest storms roll through, the National Weather Service said. Rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour were possible in some of the same areas that were inundated last week.

A dozen shelters were open for flood victims in Kentucky with 388 occupants on Sunday, according to FEMA.

Beshear said state police were taking calls from worried people who can’t locate loved ones due to spotty cell phone service.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a video statement on Sunday in which he said more bodies had been recovered but that their deaths could not yet been confirmed as being in relation to the flooding

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released a video statement on Sunday in which he said more bodies had been recovered but that their deaths could not yet been confirmed as being in relation to the flooding

Floodwaters overwhelm a neighborhood in Kentucky as the state is ravaged by severe weather

Floodwaters overwhelm a neighborhood in Kentucky as the state is ravaged by severe weather

Teresa Reynolds sits exhausted as members of her community clean the debris from her flood ravaged homes at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, Saturday, July 30, 2022

Teresa Reynolds sits exhausted as members of her community clean the debris from her flood ravaged homes at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, Saturday, July 30, 2022

‘We still can’t get into some areas to check on people,’ Beshear said, ‘We’re doubling our National Guard. We’re going to work to go door to door, work to find, again, as many people as we can. We’re even going to work through the rain. But the weather is complicating it.’

The governor also released a video statement on Sunday in which he said more bodies had been recovered but that their deaths had not yet been confirmed as being caused by the flooding.  

‘We do know of additional bodies that have been recovered, but cannot confirm those deaths at this time,’ he said. 

He also gave an update on recovery efforts, announcing that trailers had arrived in the state over the weekend to provide housing for displaced residents.

Warning about upcoming rains, he pleaded with residents to remain vigilant about their safety and said emergency agencies would remain on hand to provide assistance.  

‘We’re gonna be there for you today, tomorrow, next week, next year. We’re not going anywhere. We are going to help you rebuild’ he said. 

Floodwaters overwhelming buildings in Whitesburg, Kentucky, known as a center for Appalachian culture

Floodwaters overwhelming buildings in Whitesburg, Kentucky, known as a center for Appalachian culture

Brown water can be seen having flooded out a valley in Kentucky

Floodwaters reached up to the roofs of buildings in Kentucky

Aerial views of the floodwaters show valleys and neighborhoods overwhelmed by churning brown water 

On an overcast morning in downtown Hindman, about 200 miles southeast of Louisville, a crew cleared debris piled along storefronts. Nearby, a vehicle was perched upside down in Troublesome Creek, now back within its debris-littered banks.

With the threat of more rain, workers toiled nonstop through mud-caked sidewalks and roads.

‘We’re going to be here unless there’s a deluge,’ said Tom Jackson, who is among the workers.

Jackson was with a crew from Corbin, Kentucky, where he’s the city’s recycling director, about a two-hour drive from Hindman.

His crew worked all day Saturday, and the mud and debris were so thick that they managed to clear one-eighth of a mile of roadway. The water had rushed off the hillsides had so much force that it bent road signs.

‘I’ve never seen water like this,’ Jackson said.

Carnage from the flooding caused by heavy rains that have ravaged Kentucky over the past week

Carnage from the flooding caused by heavy rains that have ravaged Kentucky over the past week

A car overturned in Troublesome creek in Hindman, Kentucky, where floodwaters have caused devastation

A car overturned in Troublesome creek in Hindman, Kentucky, where floodwaters have caused devastation

A search and rescue team in Jackson County, Kentucky, look for victims and survivors of the region's flooding

A search and rescue team in Jackson County, Kentucky, look for victims and survivors of the region’s flooding

In Knott County, Teresa Perry Reynolds´ home was inundated with water and mud. She and her husband would have taken refuge in their 44-foot travel trailer, but it was swamped by the floodwater.

‘I have the clothes on my back,’ she said Saturday when asked what they could salvage.

They found her husband’s wallet after searching a day and a half. It was left behind as they escaped the fast-rising water Thursday and went to a neighbor’s house. A team of volunteers hauled debris out of her house Saturday.

Reynolds and her husband are staying with friends. She’s a retired teacher and her husband is a retired school administrator.

‘All I know is I’m homeless and I’ve got people taking care of me,’ she said.

A National Guardsman rescues an individual during the flooding that has killed 26 in Kentucky over the last week

A National Guardsman rescues an individual during the flooding that has killed 26 in Kentucky over the last week

National Guardsmen conduct rescue operations from a boat near Hazard, Kentucky

National Guardsmen conduct rescue operations from a boat near Hazard, Kentucky

Volunteers from the local mennonite community clean flood damaged property from a house at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on Saturday, July 30

Volunteers from the local mennonite community clean flood damaged property from a house at Ogden Hollar in Hindman, Kentucky, on Saturday, July 30

The rain let up early Friday after parts of eastern Kentucky received between 8 and 10 1/2 inches over 48 hours. About 13,000 utility customers in Kentucky remained without power Sunday, poweroutage.us reported.

President Joe Biden declared a federal disaster to direct relief money to more than a dozen Kentucky counties.

Last week’s flooding extended to West Virginia, where Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency for six southern counties, and to Virginia, where Gov. Glenn Youngkin also made an emergency declaration that enabled officials to mobilize resources across the flooded southwest portion of the state.

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